Jun 302015
 

Businesswoman in blindfoldConsciousness — the internal dialogue that seems to govern one’s thoughts and actions — is far less powerful than people believe, serving as a passive conduit rather than an active force that exerts control, according to a new theory proposed by an SF State researcher.

Associate Professor of Psychology Ezequiel Morsella’s “Passive Frame Theory” suggests that the conscious mind is like an interpreter helping speakers of different languages communicate.

“The interpreter presents the information but is not the one making any arguments or acting upon the knowledge that is shared,” Morsella said. “Similarly, the information we perceive in our consciousness is not created by conscious processes, nor is it reacted to by conscious processes. Consciousness is the middle-man, and it doesn’t do as much work as you think.”

Morsella and his coauthors’ groundbreaking theory, published online on June 22 by the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences, contradicts intuitive beliefs about human consciousness and the notion of self.

Consciousness, per Morsella’s theory, is more reflexive and less purposeful than conventional wisdom would dictate. Because the human mind experiences its own consciousness as sifting through urges, thoughts, feelings and physical actions, people understand their consciousness to be in control of these myriad impulses. But in reality, Morsella argues, consciousness does the same simple task over and over, giving the impression that it is doing more than it actually is.

“We have long thought consciousness solved problems and had many moving parts, but it’s much more basic and static,” Morsella said. “This theory is very counterintuitive. It goes against our everyday way of thinking.”

According to Morsella’s framework, the “free will” that people typically attribute to their conscious mind — the idea that our consciousness, as a “decider,” guides us to a course of action — does not exist. Instead, consciousness only relays information to control “voluntary” action, or goal-oriented movement involving the skeletal muscle system.

Compare consciousness to the Internet, Morsella suggested. The Internet can be used to buy books, reserve a hotel room and complete thousands of other tasks. Taken at face value, it would seem incredibly powerful. But, in actuality, a person in front of a laptop or clicking away on a smartphone is running the show — the Internet is just being made to perform the same basic process, without any free will of its own.

The Passive Frame Theory also defies the intuitive belief that one conscious thought leads to another. “One thought doesn’t know about the other, they just often have access to and are acting upon the same, unconscious information,” Morsella said. “You have one thought and then another, and you think that one thought leads to the next, but this doesn’t seem to be the way the process actually works.”

The theory, which took Morsella and his team more than 10 years to develop, can be difficult to accept at first, he said.

“The number one reason it’s taken so long to reach this conclusion is because people confuse what consciousness is for with what they think they use it for,” Morsella said. “Also, most approaches to consciousness focus on perception rather than action.”

The theory has major implications for the study of mental disorders, Morsella said. “Why do you have an urge or thought that you shouldn’t be having? Because, in a sense, the consciousness system doesn’t know that you shouldn’t be thinking about something,” Morsella said. “An urge generator doesn’t know that an urge is irrelevant to other thoughts or ongoing action.”

The study of consciousness is complicated, Morsella added, because of the inherent difficulty of applying the conscious mind to study itself.

“For the vast majority of human history, we were hunting and gathering and had more pressing concerns that required rapidly executed voluntary actions,” Morsella said. “Consciousness seems to have evolved for these types of actions rather than to understand itself.”

Source: SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY

Jun 242015
 

Close-up of psychiatrist keeping her hands together while listening to her patient

Researchers at Monash University have found physical differences in the brains of people who respond emotionally to others’ feelings, compared to those who respond more rationally, in a study published in the journal NeuroImage.

The work, led by Robert Eres from the University’s School of Psychological Sciences, pinpointed correlations between grey matter density and cognitive and affective empathy. The study looked at whether people who have more brain cells in certain areas of the brain are better at different types of empathy.

“People who are high on affective empathy are often those who get quite fearful when watching a scary movie, or start crying during a sad scene. Those who have high cognitive empathy are those who are more rational, for example a clinical psychologist counselling a client,” Mr Eres said.

The researchers used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine the extent to which grey matter density in 176 participants predicted their scores on tests that rated their levels for cognitive empathy compared to affective – or emotional – empathy.

The results showed that people with high scores for affective empathy had greater grey matter density in the insula, a region found right in the ‘middle’ of the brain. Those who scored higher for cognitive empathy had greater density in the midcingulate cortex – an area above the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain.

“Taken together, these results provide validation for empathy being a multi-component construct, suggesting that affective and cognitive empathy are differentially represented in brain morphometry as well as providing convergent evidence for empathy being represented by different neural and structural correlates,” the study said.

The findings raise further questions about whether some kinds of empathy could be increased through training, or whether people can lose their capacity for empathy if they don’t use it enough.

“Every day people use empathy with, and without, their knowledge to navigate the social world,” said Mr Eres.

“We use it for communication, to build relationships, and consolidate our understanding of others.”

However, the discovery also raises new questions – like whether people could train themselves to be more empathic, and would those areas of the brain become larger if they did, or whether we can lose our ability to empathise if we don’t use it enough.

“In the future we want to investigate causation by testing whether training people on empathy related tasks can lead to changes in these brain structures and investigate if damage to these brain structures, as a result of a stroke for example, can lead to empathy impairments,” said Mr Eres.

Source: Monash University

 

Links for Tony Delroy’s Night Life June 19

 Links for Tony Delroy’s Night Life June 19  Delroy's NightLife  Comments Off on Links for Tony Delroy’s Night Life June 19
Jun 192015
 
 
 
 
 
 

Roepke and Seligman on prospection and depression

 Roepke and Seligman on prospection and depression  Depression, News  Comments Off on Roepke and Seligman on prospection and depression
Jun 192015
 

photodune-3536682-half-full-xs (1)

A pessimistic view of the future may not be the result of depression but the cause of it.

That is the conclusion of research by Ann Marie Roepke and Professor Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology today.

The two researchers carried out a review of the literature on depression and ‘prospection’ – the mental representation of possible futures. From it they propose that three kinds of faulty prospection can drive depression.

 

These are:

  • poor generation of possible futures
  • poor evaluation of possible future
  • negative beliefs about the future

The researchers also proposed that depressed mood and poor functioning may in turn maintain faulty prospection and so feed a vicious cycle.

They suggest that faulty prospection can be treated by strategies drawn from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a form of ‘talk therapy’ that tackles patterns of thinking that can lead to problems with mood or behaviour.

The authors say:

“Prospection belongs front and centre in the study of depression. Laboratory studies are needed to confirm that faulty prospection does drive depression and to help us determine how prospection can be improved. We hope clinical scientists will invest in research on prospection to shed more light on a crucial and underappreciated process that may underlie much more than depression.

“An understanding of how prospection shapes psychopathology may enable researchers to create more effective treatments and help distressed individuals to create brighter futures.”

The researchers suggest some aspects future research might explore. This includes establishing what helpful prospection looks like; determining how much time people with depression spend thinking about the past, present and future – and how much they should; and clinical trials to see if CBT aimed particularly at prospection is more helpful to people with depression than conventional CBT.”Roepke

Source: British Psychological Society

Jun 182015
 

 For those wishing to lose weight and keep it off, here’s a simple strategy that works: step on a scale each day and track the results.

A two-year Cornell study, recently published in the Journal of Obesity, found that frequent self-weighing and tracking results on a chart were effective for both losing weight and keeping it off, especially for men.

Subjects who lost weight the first year in the program were able to maintain that lost weight throughout the second year. This is important because studies show that about 40 percent of weight lost with any dietary treatment is regained in one year, and almost 100 percent of weight loss is regained at the end of five years.

“You just need a bathroom scale and an excel spreadsheet or even a piece of graph paper,” said David Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell and the paper’s senior author.

The method “forces you to be aware of the connection between your eating and your weight,” said Levitsky. “It used to be taught that you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily, and this is just the reverse.”

In the study, 162 subjects were randomly separated into an intervention group and a control group. Individuals in the intervention group were first given a target of 1 percent weight loss, which they could lose in any manner they chose.

“Because we didn’t prescribe, everyone found their own way of losing the weight,” whether they reduced portion size, stopped snacking or skipped a meal, Levitsky said. Losing 1 percent of body weight requires most people to cut only about 150 calories a day for two weeks.

Once they maintained that weight loss for 10 days, the program then gave them a new target to lose another 1 percent, and so on. The goal was to lose a total of 10 percent of their starting body weight.

Still, there was a significant difference between men and women, with women losing weight on the program, but far less than the men.

“It seems to work better for men than women, for reasons we cannot figure out yet,” Levitsky said.

Overall, the researchers believe that stepping on a scale and tracking one’s weight acts as a reinforcement for some behaviors, such as eating less, and it strengthens others such as going for a walk in order to maintain body weight.

“We think the scale also acts as a priming mechanism, making you conscious of food and enabling you to make choices that are consistent with your weight,” Levitsky said.

Source: CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Humans’ built-in GPS is our 3-D sense of smell

 Humans’ built-in GPS is our 3-D sense of smell  Smell, Worth Noting  Comments Off on Humans’ built-in GPS is our 3-D sense of smell
Jun 182015
 

Smelling appleLike homing pigeons, humans have a nose for navigation because our brains are wired to convert smells into spatial information, new research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows.

While humans may lack the scent-tracking sophistication of, say, a search-and-rescue dog, we can sniff our way, blindfolded, toward a location whose scent we’ve smelled only once before, according to the UC Berkeley study published  June 17 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Similar investigations have been conducted on birds and rodents, but this is the first time smell-based navigation has been field-tested on humans. The results evoke a GPS-like superpower one could call an “olfactory positioning system.”

“What we’ve found is that we humans have the capability to orient ourselves along highways of odors and crisscross landscapes using only our sense of smell,” said study lead author Lucia Jacobs, a UC Berkeley psychology professor who studies evolution and cognition in animals and humans.

Smell is a primitive sense that our early ancestors used for foraging, hunting and mating, among other skills necessary for survival. Early sailors and aviators gave anecdotal reports of using odors to navigate, but there have been no experiential scientific studies on this until now.

The process of smelling, or olfaction, is triggered by odor molecules traveling up the nasal passage, where they are identified by receptors that send signals to the olfactory bulb – which sits between the nasal cavity and the brain’s frontal lobe – and processes the information. A key to the connection between smell, memory and navigation is that olfactory bulbs have a strong neural link to the brain’s hippocampus, which creates spatial maps of our environment.

“Olfaction is like this background fabric to our world that we might not be conscious of, but we are using it to stay oriented,” Jacobs said. “We may not see a eucalyptus grove as we pass it at night, but our brain is encoding the smells and creating a map.”

Pigeons and rats, for example, are known to orient themselves using odor maps, or “smellscapes,” but sighted humans rely more heavily on visual landmarks, and so the study turned up some surprising results.

Two dozen young adults were tested on orientation and navigation tasks under various scenarios in which their hearing, sight or smell was blocked. The test location was a 25-by-20-foot room where 32 containers with sponges were placed at points around the edge of the room. Two of the sponges were infused with essential oils such as sweet birch, anise or clove.

In the smell-only experiment, study participants were led, one at a time, into the room wearing blindfolds, earplugs and headphones and walked in circles for disorientation purposes. They spent a minute at a specific point on the grid, where they inhaled a combination of two fragrances. After being walked in circles again for disorientation purposes, they were tasked with sniffing their way back to the starting point where they had smelled the two fragrances.

Overall, study participants navigated relatively closely to the targeted location when using only their sense of smell, compared to when other sensory inputs were blocked. Moreover, they were not just following one scent, but using information from both scents to orient themselves toward a point on an odor grid.

“We never thought humans could have a good enough sense of smell for this,” said Jacobs. But in retrospect, she noted, the results are “as obvious as the nose on my face.” Jacobs will be exploring this mechanism further as a scientist selected to be on the team of the National Science Foundation’s “Cracking the Olfactory Code” Ideas Lab, which takes place this summer.

Source: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – BERKELEY

Jun 182015
 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers and their colleagues have developed a “placenta-on-a-chip” to study the inner workings of the human placenta and its role in pregnancy. The device was designed to imitate, on a micro-level, the structure and function of the placenta and model the transfer of nutrients from mother to fetus. This prototype is one of the latest in a series of organ-on-a-chip technologies developed to accelerate biomedical advances.

The study, published online in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the University of Pennsylvania, Wayne State University/Detroit Medical Center, Seoul National University and Asan Medical Center in South Korea.

“We believe that this technology may be used to address questions that are difficult to answer with current placenta model systems and help enable research on pregnancy and its complications,” said Roberto Romero, M.D., chief of the NICHD’s Perinatology Research Branch and one of the study authors.

The placenta is a temporary organ that develops in pregnancy and is the major interface between mother and fetus. Among its many functions is to serve as a “crossing guard” for substances traveling between mother and fetus. The placenta helps nutrients and oxygen move to the fetus and helps waste products move away. At the same time, the placenta tries to stop harmful environmental exposures, like bacteria, viruses and certain medications, from reaching the fetus. When the placenta doesn’t function correctly, the health of both mom and baby suffers.

Researchers are trying to learn how the placenta manages all this traffic, transporting some substances and blocking others. This knowledge may one day help clinicians better assess placental health and ultimately improve pregnancy outcomes.

However, studying the placenta in humans is challenging: it is time-consuming, subject to a great deal of variability and potentially risky for the fetus. For those reasons, previous studies on placental transport have relied largely on animal models and on laboratory-grown human cells. These methods have yielded helpful information, but are limited as to how well they can mimic physiological processes in humans.

The researchers created the placenta-on-a-chip technology to address these challenges, using human cells in a structure that more closely resembles the placenta’s maternal-fetal barrier. The device consists of a semi-permeable membrane between two tiny chambers, one filled with maternal cells derived from a delivered placenta and the other filled with fetal cells derived from an umbilical cord.

After designing the structure of the model, the researchers tested its function by evaluating the transfer of glucose (a substance made by the body when converting carbohydrates to energy) from the maternal compartment to the fetal compartment. The successful transfer of glucose in the device mirrored what occurs in the body.

“The chip may allow us to do experiments more efficiently and at a lower cost than animal studies,” said Dr. Romero. “With further improvements, we hope this technology may lead to better understanding of normal placental processes and placental disorders.”

Source: NIH/EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF CHILD HEALTH AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

Jun 182015
 

magnetosensor830

Inside the head of the worm C. elegans, the TV antenna-like structure at the tip of the AFD neuron (green) is the first identified sensor for Earth’s magnetic field. Illustration by Andrés Vidal-Gadea

A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has identified the first sensor of the Earth’s magnetic field in an animal, finding in the brain of a tiny worm a big clue to a long-held mystery about how animals’ internal compasses work.

Animals as diverse as migrating geese, sea turtles and wolves are known to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. But until now, no one has pinpointed quite how they do it. The sensor, found in worms called C. elegans, is a microscopic structure at the end of a neuron that other animals probably share, given similarities in brain structure across species. The sensor looks like a nano-scale TV antenna, and the worms use it to navigate underground.

“Chances are that the same molecules will be used by cuter animals like butterflies and birds,” said Jon Pierce-Shimomura, assistant professor of neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences and member of the research team. “This gives us a first foothold in understanding magnetosensation in other animals.”

The researchers discovered that hungry worms in gelatin-filled tubes tend to move down, a strategy they might use when searching for food.

When the researchers brought worms into the lab from other parts of the world, the worms didn’t all move down. Depending on where they were from — Hawaii, England or Australia, for example — they moved at a precise angle to the magnetic field that would have corresponded to down if they had been back home. For instance, Australian worms moved upward in tubes. The magnetic field’s orientation varies from spot to spot on Earth, and each worm’s magnetic field sensor system is finely tuned to its local environment, allowing it to tell up from down.

The research is published this week in the journal eLife.

The study’s lead author is Andrés Vidal-Gadea, a former postdoctoral researcher in the College of Natural Sciences at UT Austin, now a faculty member at Illinois State University. He noted that C. elegans is just one of myriad species living in the soil, many of which are known to migrate vertically.

“I’m fascinated by the prospect that magnetic detection could be widespread across soil dwelling organisms,” said Vidal-Gadea.

The neuroscientists and engineers, who use C. elegans in their research into Alzheimer’s disease and addiction, had previously discovered the worm’s ability to sense humidity. That work led them to ask what else the worms might be able to sense, such as magnetic fields.

In 2012, scientists from Baylor College of Medicine announced the discovery of brain cells in pigeons that process information about magnetic fields, but they did not discover which part of the body senses the fields. That team and others have proposed a magnetosensor in the birds’ inner ear.

“It’s been a competitive race to find the first magnetosensory neuron,” said Pierce-Shimomura. “And we think we’ve won with worms, which is a big surprise because no one suspected that worms could sense the Earth’s magnetic field.”

The neuron sporting a magnetic field sensor, called an AFD neuron, was already known to sense carbon dioxide levels and temperature.

The researchers discovered the worms’ magnetosensory abilities by altering the magnetic field around them with a special magnetic coil system and then observing changes in behavior. They also showed that worms which were genetically engineered to have a broken AFD neuron did not orient themselves up and down as do normal worms. Finally, the researchers used a technique called calcium imaging to demonstrate that changes in the magnetic field cause the AFD neuron to activate.

Pierce-Shimomura suggested this research might open up the possibility of manipulating magnetic fields to protect agricultural crops from harmful pests.Other members of the research team from the College of Natural Sciences are Joshua Russell, a former graduate student who completed his Ph.D.; Kristi Ward, a former undergraduate; and Celia Beron, a current undergraduate. Research team members from the Cockrell School of Engineering are: Dr. Adela Ben-Yakar, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Navid Ghorashian, a former graduate student who completed his Ph.D.; and Sertan Gokce, a current graduate student.

Support for this research came from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Read the article Magnetosensitive neurons mediate geomagnetic orientation in Caenorhabditis elegans(eLife, June 17, 2015).

Source: University of Texas at Austin

Self-awareness not unique to mankind

 Self-awareness not unique to mankind  Psyche, Recently  Comments Off on Self-awareness not unique to mankind
Jun 182015
 

Humans are unlikely to be the only animal capable of self-awareness, a new study has shown.

Conducted by University of Warwick researchers, the study found that humans and other animals capable of mentally simulating environments require at least a primitive sense of self. The finding suggests that any animal that can simulate environments must have a form of self-awareness.

Often viewed as one of man’s defining characteristics, the study strongly suggests that self-awareness is not unique to mankind and is instead likely to be common among animals.

The researchers, from the University of Warwick’s Departments of Psychology and Philosophy, used thought experiments to discover which capabilities animals must have in order to mentally simulate their environment.

Commenting on the research Professor Thomas Hills, study co-author from Warwick’s Department of Psychology, said: “The study’s key insight is that those animals capable of simulating their future actions must be able to distinguish between their imagined actions and those that are actually experienced.”

The researchers were inspired by work conducted in the 1950s on maze navigation in rats. It was observed that rats, at points in the maze that required them to make decisions on what they would do next, often stopped and appeared to deliberate over their future actions.

Recent neuroscience research found that at these ‘choice points’ rats and other vertebrates activate regions of their hippocampus that appear to simulate choices and their potential outcomes.

Professor Hills and Professor Stephen Butterfill, from Warwick’s Department of Philosophy, created different descriptive models to explain the process behind the rat’s deliberation at the ‘choice points’.

One model, the Naive Model, assumed that animals inhibit action during simulation. However, this model created false memories because the animal would be unable to tell the differences between real and imagined actions.

A second, the Self-actuating Model, was able to solve this problem by ‘tagging’ real versus imagined experience. Hills and Butterfill called this tagging the ‘primal self’.

Commenting on the finding the Professor Hills, said: “The study answers a very old question: do animals have a sense of self? Our first aim was to understand the recent neural evidence that animals can project themselves into the future. What we wound up understanding is that, in order to do so, they must have a primal sense of self.

“As such, humans must not be the only animal capable of self-awareness. Indeed, the answer we are led to is that anything, even robots, that can adaptively imagine themselves doing what they have not yet done, must be able to separate the knower from the known.”

The study, From foraging to autonoetic consciousness: The primal self as a consequence of embodied prospective foraging, is published by Current Zoology.

Source: University of Warwick

Jun 172015
 

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on same-sex marriage equality, a University of Cincinnati survey of same-sex couples finds that 90 percent of the respondents felt that the option to marry was important to their relationship. The study is currently published online in the Journal of Homosexuality.

UC researchers Stephen M. Haas, an associate professor of communication, and Sarah W. Whitton, an assistant professor of psychology, uncovered the perceived benefits of cohabitation and marriage of same-sex couples after conducting a national online survey of 526 individuals who reported they were in a committed, same-sex relationship for at least six months. The survey also found that many same-sex couples view living together as significant because it symbolizes and solidifies their commitment to their relationship, possibly because marriage has never been an option. The researchers say this view differs from previous national research on different sex couples, for whom cohabitation signifies less commitment than marriage.

The researchers uncovered several themes out of responses from two open-ended questions in the survey:

1. Thinking about your relationship with your partner, what is the significance of living together, to you, in your relationship?

2. Why do you think legal marriage is, or is not, important to your relationship?

Six dominant themes emerged from the second question, “Why do you think legal marriage is, or is not, important to your relationship?” The researchers reported that 90 percent of the respondents felt that the option to marry legally was important to their relationship, with themes including:

  • Legal benefits and financial protections (91 percent)
  • Relationship legitimacy (36 percent)
  • Equal commitment as different-sex couples (34 percent)
  • We don’t need marriage, we’re already committed, but we want equal rights (21 percent)
  • Couple validation (17 percent)
  • Personally important (6 percent)

“The remarks about the legal benefits and financial protections aren’t surprising because we’ve heard so much about that from news interviews,” says Haas. “But that second category of relationship legitimacy – of having societal legitimacy – stood out to me. We received responses such as, ‘My partner doesn’t get invited on family vacations because we’re not married. But if we were married, my partner would be invited.’ So in the view of family origin, it was very important.”

The researchers add that seven dominant themes emerged from question one, about the significance of living together. Four themes were most commonly mentioned by the participants:

  • Symbolizes commitment (40 percent)
  • Provides emotional support (36 percent)
  • Makes us a family (34 percent)
  • Sharing life together (32 percent)

Three lesser mentioned themes were: maximizes time together (10 percent); like any married couple (10 percent); convenience/finances (7 percent).

Same-sex couples’ views of cohabitation in the UC study differ from previous research on different-sex couples who have indicated that living together carries less meaning and a lower level of commitment than marriage. “There’s published data on different-sex couples that indicate that many of their cohabitation arrangements were a matter of testing the relationship or just convenience, like saving on rental payments,” says Whitton. “A very small proportion of same-sex couples reflected those views in our study, but for the majority of same-sex couples, cohabitation carries significance to symbolizing their commitment.”

“Respondents who live in states without legal same-sex marriage described living with one’s partner as the strongest level of commitment available to those same-sex couples,” the authors state in the paper. “For example, one person explained, ‘Because of Ohio’s laws, living together is basically the closest thing we have to marriage.'”

Participants in the study represented 47 states, excluding Alaska, Idaho and South Dakota. The majority of the respondents, 67 percent, reported that same-sex marriage was not available in their state (including 92 percent of those who had formalized their relationship in a legal ceremony). The length of relationships ranged from one to 30 years.

The UC online survey was conducted in 2012, with recruitment from LGBT organizations, announcements on Craigslist and flier promotions at several Midwestern Gay Pride events in 2012. The ages of the participants ranged from 19 to 74 with the median age of 41. Participants were 63 percent female; 37 percent male; and 2 percent identified as “other,” or “gender queer.” The majority of the survey participants were Caucasian (87 percent), followed by Hispanic (7 percent), African-American (1.5 percent), Asian (1.5 percent), Native American (2 percent) and other/mixed race (1 percent).

Roughly one-third (29 percent) of the respondents had formalized their relationship via a legal ceremony; 16 percent via a non-legal commitment ceremony and 55 percent reported having no ceremony.

Same-sex marriage currently is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by the end of the month on whether or not to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage. The ruling will follow a review of cases involving bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee, after oral arguments were held in April.

Source: UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI

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